Concert News, David Cook

An interview with David Cook


David CookSimon Cowell summed up the 2008 American Idol finale with two words: “a knockout” — for David Archuleta.

Funny thing though, Idol voters saw it differently.

And when the season seven winner was announced the next night, David Cook was the one receiving congratulations as the confetti fell all around him.

A year later, his single “Light On” is number six on Billboard’s Adult Top 40, his self-titled album has gone platinum, and he’s in the middle of the Declaration 2009 Tour, featuring mostly shows at college campuses.

On Tuesday, the tour stops at the Pullo Performing Arts Center at Penn State York, where the 1,000-lus seats have been sold out since early February, about a week after tickets went on sale.

David took time to answer a series of questions for Idol Chatter Friday afternoon, prior to a gig in Atlantic City, N.J.

Question: When you announced the Declaration tour, you referred to the idea of playing college campuses as something of a throwback, the type of tour bands used to do. Has it lived up to your expectations?

David Cook: “To be able to get out on the road at all is a huge deal for me. And then to be able to do something like this, I think the audiences have been really receptive and hopefully we’re getting this record out to a lot of new ears in the process.”

Question: Here in York, about 700 of the 1,000 tickets sold in three hours, and the show was a sellout within a week. Your reaction?

David: “I’m consistently shocked about that kind of stuff. Just the fact that people are coming out in the numbers that they’re coming out to support what we’re doing is very humbly. I don’t take that lightly at all.”

Question: Watching Idol last season, I think viewers were left with the impression that you went straight from tending bar to the Idol stage. What were you doing musically before Idol?

David: “I’ve been in bands since I was 15, actually. And then I tried to DIY-it for a long time. Then Idol came along and the rest as they say …”

Question: So were you working as a musician prior to Idol?

David: “I mean it wasn’t paying the bills, but, yeah, I was working to be a musician. I would probably play six to eight shows a month, normally like acoustic gigs, playing a lot of covers and stuff. Get a couple solo shows in every month.”

Question: Now winning Idol doesn’t guarantee success. Yet here you are a year later with a platinum album. When was it that you realized, ‘Hey, this is going to work out pretty well?’

David: “I don’t know that I’ve gotten there yet. I don’t like to dwell too much, you know. I’m extremely appreciative of the platinum record and really all of this. But I also realize that fame is fleeting and this could all fall apart today, tomorrow, you know, whatever. I’m always trying to work for the next step so, I don’t know, I guess I really haven’t stopped long enough to realize it.”

Question: There’s a perception Idol winners are rushed into the studio and given a bunch of pre-made hits to record. Yet you share writing credits on 10 songs of the 12 songs on your album. Based on that, it seems like you had a good deal of input on the album. Was that the case?

David: “That was just important to me. Before Idol, I was a songwriter, and I didn’t want to omit that part of my background. And so RCA and 19 (Entertainment) really trusted me to be a part of that, and I think the end result is the record that we have. We’ve been extremely fortunate to have the numbers that we’ve had come out on this record, and I think, honestly, it’s directly related to the fact that fans are able to get behind the music we’re performing live because I’m able to get behind the music I’m performing live because I had a hand in writing it.”

Question: Do any of the songs on the album pre-date Idol?

David: “Actually only one did. ‘A Daily Anthem,’ the last song on the record, was one I wrote back in 2005. Everything else was written between the finale and, I think, maybe the end of September.”

Question: So most of the songs on the album were written while you were still on the Idol summer tour (49 shows between July and mid-September)?

David: “Oh, yeah. I think I had two days off the entire summer. So it was busy.”

Question: Do any of the songs have a particularly interesting story behind them?

David: “For me, I think the cornerstone song on the album was “Permanent.” I think that was the last song we wrote for the record. We tracked it live in two takes at Conway Studios in L.A. It was just one of those poignant moments. We nailed the song exactly the way it was in my head, which almost never happens. And it brought a lot of people in the room to tears, including myself. It was just one of those very poignant, very heavy moments. That’s probably my favorite story from the record just because for a songwriter to have a song that’s in your head come together so quickly and so fully onto a record is pretty intense.”

Question: Do you still follow American Idol?

David: “I have to admit, I haven’t kept up with it as much as I would like … at the time the auditions were going on we were in tour rehearsals and I kept missing episodes and I’m still playing catchup. We actually just taped a performance Friday which should air April 1. I got a chance to meet the contestants and see everybody again. It was a trip … hopefully they let me come back for the finale. That’d be nice.”

Question: What do you think of the changes they’ve made to the show?

David: “On the surface, you have to hand it to show. They’re the most watched show in America and they’re still trying get better, which I can really appreciate. I like Kara. She’s been an awesome addition, and it always helps to have more people with musical aptitude. It can only help. Everything else, I think it’s kind of wait and see. We’re at the top 10 now, and I don’t feel like anybody has entirely separated themself from the pack.”

Question: And now I understand you’ll wind up on one of the new American Idol trading cards that will be released in April?

David: “That’s a trip. I grew up collecting baseball cards, and I think I’ve still got my Ken Griffey Jr. and Frank Thomas rookie cards, somewhere. But, yeah, I don’t know, I think it’s funny that now there’s the chance that some kid is going to trade three David Cook cards for a Carrie Underwood card.”

Question: Is there any sort of timetable for a second album? Any thoughts of things you like to do differently on a second album?

David: “I feel very confident in the record we have out right now. I feel like there are a lot of songs on this record that have some room to breathe so I kind of want to give them that chance. We’re always noddling and trying out ideas for the next record, but there’s no timetable right now.”

Question: Is a second David Cook album likely to sound much different from the first?

David: “I think folks should expect something different. I definitely want to progress on the next record, and I think the sign of a true artist is someone who is continually evolving. My goal is, knock on wood, we get to a fourth record, that fourth record is not going to sound anything like the first.”

Is there any artist whose career you’d like to emulate? Anyone you look at and, say, ‘Hey, I’d like my career to take that sort of path?’

David: “No. I kinda enjoy kind of making my own path.”

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